(Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures fell on Thursday despite federal data showing a bigger-than-expected storage withdrawal.
Front-month gas futures for February delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange eased 7.6 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $3.433 per million British thermal units at 10:46 a.m. EST.
U.S. utilities pulled 288 billion cubic feet of gas from storage during the week ended on Jan. 19, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday.
That was higher than the record 272 bcf draw analysts estimated for that week in a Reuters poll. [EIA/GAS]
The withdrawal compares with a year-earlier decline of about 137 bcf and a five-year average decrease of about 164 bcf for that period.
Reporting by Swati Verma in BengaluruEditing by Chizu Nomiyama